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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dagestanis Protest New Tax Chief

Hundreds of protesters blocked the entrance to Dagestan's headquarters of the Federal Tax Service, insisting that its Moscow-appointed chief be replaced with a representative of a local ethnic group.

About 500 people blocked the building in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala on Monday, demanding that the new tax official be replaced with an ethnic Lezgin.

The protesters asked Dagestani President Mukhu Aliyev to request officials in Moscow to recall the appointment of Vladimir Radchenko, a former tax chief in another North Caucasus republic, Karachayevo-Cherkessia.

In Dagestan, a multiethnic and clannish republic, authorities strive to balance interests with an unofficial policy in which important government posts are given to representatives of certain ethnic groups. The previous head of the republic's tax service, who quit in November, was an ethnic Lezgin.

Radchenko, meanwhile, was stopped at the Dagestani border by regional police Monday as he traveled by car from Rostov-on-Don, Kommersant reported. He was told that bombs had been planted at his new office and that they could not guarantee his safety there. Radchenko was forced to turn around.

The Federal Tax Service said in a statement that the demonstration in Makhachkala was a "provocation" and that it would push for criminal prosecution of the organizers.